Malawi rights groups urge probe into Banda poll interference

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Rights groups on Tuesday called for a probe into allegations by Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Maxon Mbendera that he received pressure from former president Joyce Banda during general elections held in May. Mbendera was quoted by a local private television as saying that former president Joyce Banda ordered the Malawi Defence Force to push the MEC to conduct vote recount, an exercise which was challenged several times through court injunctions.

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of the People (CEDEP) said in a statement availed to the media on Tuesday that they wanted the relevant authorities to conduct swift, thorough investigations to establish the truth about what happened during the controversial tripartite elections.

“If these allegations are true, it smacks the power abuse on the part of the former president, which Malawians should guard against,” the statement said.

The two organisations also expressed surprise at the period that has elapsed from the time the elections were held to the revelations by Mbendera.

The CHRR and CEDEP described Mbendera as irrelevant and called him to step down as MEC chairperson.

The Islamic Commission for Justice and Peace also weighed in, questioning the motive behind the MEC chairperson’s allegations, nearly five months after the elections.

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